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  • Writer's pictureBrian Cummings

Working with Amazon Freight Forwarders (Guide for Sellers)

Updated: Feb 7

If you are an Amazon seller, one way to streamline your business and expand your global reach is by working with an Amazon freight forwarder. But what exactly is a freight forwarder, and how can they help you with your FBA business?


Simply put, a freight forwarder is a company that specializes in logistics and helps businesses transport their goods from one place to another. In the case of Amazon sellers, freight forwarders can assist with shipping products from overseas factories to Amazon fulfillment centers. They can also help with customs clearance, documentation, and other aspects of international shipping.


In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about working with an Amazon freight forwarder, from finding the right partner to optimizing your shipping operations.


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The Role of Amazon Freight Forwarders

Freight forwarding is a crucial part of international trade, and it involves coordinating the shipment of goods from one country to another. In this section, we'll explain the basics of Amazon freight forwarding and how it can benefit your business.


Role and Importance

Amazon Freight Forwarders are third-party logistics companies that provide shipping and freight services for businesses selling products on Amazon's e-commerce platform. They play a vital role in the Amazon FBA process by helping sellers efficiently get products from the supplier to the warehouse at fast speeds and low costs. Freight forwarders take care of all the logistics involved in shipping products from the manufacturer to the Amazon fulfillment center, including customs clearance, documentation, and transportation.


Using a freight forwarder can help you save time and money, as they have the expertise and experience to handle all the details of international shipping. They can also help you avoid common pitfalls and delays that can arise when dealing with customs and other regulations.


Types of Freight Forwarders

There are several types of freight forwarders that you can work with as an Amazon seller. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you'll need to choose the one that best fits your business needs.

  • NVOCC (Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier): These freight forwarders do not own any vessels but have contracts with shipping lines to transport cargo. They are responsible for booking cargo, handling documentation, and arranging transportation.

  • Freight Forwarding Agents: These are intermediaries that work with a network of carriers and logistics providers to coordinate the shipment of goods. They are responsible for handling all aspects of the shipment, including documentation, customs clearance, and transportation.

  • Air Freight Forwarders: These freight forwarders specialize in shipping goods by air. They have relationships with airlines and can negotiate better rates for their clients. They also have expertise in handling air freight documentation and customs clearance.

  • Ocean Freight Forwarders: These freight forwarders specialize in shipping goods by sea. They have relationships with shipping lines and can negotiate better rates for their clients. They also have expertise in handling ocean freight documentation and customs clearance.

How Freight Forwarding Works

Freight forwarding is the process of organizing the transportation of goods from one place to another. This process involves several entities, including shipping companies, cargo carriers, and transportation providers.


Transportation Modes

Freight forwarders can arrange for the transportation of your goods via various modes of transport, including air, sea, and land. The mode of transportation you choose will depend on your specific requirements, such as the size and weight of your cargo, the shipping route, and the urgency of delivery.


Air transportation is the fastest mode of transport, ideal for time-sensitive shipments. Sea transportation is a cost-effective option for larger shipments that are not time-sensitive. Inland transportation is necessary for moving goods from the port to the final destination.


Shipping Options

Freight forwarders can also offer a range of shipping options to suit your needs. These include full container load (FCL) and less than container load (LCL) options. FCL is suitable for large shipments that require a full container, while LCL is ideal for smaller shipments that can be consolidated with other cargo.


Another shipping option is door-to-door service, where the freight forwarder handles the entire shipping process from the point of origin to the final destination. This service can be more expensive but offers convenience and peace of mind.


Consolidation Services

Consolidation services are another option offered by freight forwarders. This involves combining multiple shipments from different suppliers into one container, reducing costs and improving efficiency. Freight forwarders can also provide warehousing and distribution services, allowing you to store your goods until they are ready for shipment.


The Cost Perspective

When it comes to shipping your products internationally, it's important to consider the cost perspective. Understanding shipping costs and how they affect your profit margins is crucial to making informed decisions as an Amazon seller.


Understand Amazon FBA Seller Size Tiers here. We explain FBA fees in this article.


Understanding Shipping Costs

Shipping costs can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including the weight and size of your products, the distance they need to travel, and the shipping method you choose. It's important to consider all of these factors when calculating your shipping costs to ensure that you are getting the most cost-effective solution for your business.


Profit Margins

If your shipping costs are too high, it can eat into your profits and make it difficult to compete with other sellers.


To ensure that your shipping costs are cost-effective, it's important to calculate your profit margins for each product. This will help you determine the maximum amount you can spend on shipping while still making a profit.


Overall, understanding shipping costs and how they affect your profit margins is crucial to making informed decisions as an Amazon seller. By working with a freight forwarder and implementing cost-effective shipping strategies, you can reduce your shipping costs and increase your profits.


Regulations and Compliance

When it comes to shipping products internationally, there are a number of regulations and compliance requirements that must be met. As an Amazon seller, it is your responsibility to ensure that your products meet these requirements and that you are in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.


Customs Clearance

One of the most important aspects of international shipping is customs clearance. This process involves the inspection and clearance of goods by customs officials before they can be released into the country. Failure to comply with customs regulations can result in delays, fines, and even the seizure of your goods.


To ensure that your products clear customs smoothly, it is important to work with a freight forwarder who has experience in international shipping and customs clearance. They can help you navigate the complex regulations and requirements and ensure that your products are properly documented and declared.


Insurance Claims

Another important aspect of international shipping is insurance. While your freight forwarder may offer insurance coverage, it is important to understand the terms and limitations of this coverage. In the event of loss or damage to your goods, you will need to file an insurance claim to recover your losses.


To ensure that your insurance claims are processed smoothly, it is important to keep detailed records of your shipments, including packing lists, invoices, and shipping documents. You should also work with a freight forwarder who has experience in filing insurance claims and can assist you in the process.


Essential Documentation

When it comes to freight forwarding, one of the most important aspects is ensuring that all the necessary documentation is in order. This will help you avoid any delays or issues with customs clearance. In this section, we'll cover the essential documentation you'll need to have in place when working with an Amazon freight forwarder.


Import and Export Paperwork

When importing or exporting goods, there are several documents that you'll need to have in order. These include:

  • Commercial Invoice: This is a document that lists the details of the transaction between the buyer and seller, including the price, quantity, and description of the goods being shipped.

  • Packing List: This is a detailed list of the contents of each package being shipped, including the weight, dimensions, and value of each item.

  • Bill of Lading: This is a legal document that acts as a receipt for the goods being shipped. It also serves as proof of ownership and is used to transfer title to the goods.

  • Customs Documentation: This includes any documents required by the customs authorities in the country of origin or destination. This may include import/export permits, certificates of origin, and other documents.

Incoterms

Incoterms are a set of standardized rules that define the responsibilities of the buyer and seller in international trade. They cover everything from the delivery of goods to the payment of taxes and duties. Some of the most common incoterms include:

  • Ex Works (EXW): The seller is responsible for making the goods available at their premises. The buyer is responsible for all transportation costs and risks.

  • Free on Board (FOB): The seller is responsible for loading the goods onto the shipping vessel. The buyer is responsible for all transportation costs and risks from that point on.

  • Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF): The seller is responsible for all costs up to the point of delivery to the port of destination. This includes the cost of insurance and freight. The buyer is responsible for any costs and risks beyond that point.

By understanding the necessary documentation and incoterms, you can work with your Amazon freight forwarder to ensure that your shipments are processed smoothly and efficiently.


Choosing a Freight Forwarder

When it comes to choosing a freight forwarder for your Amazon business, there are a few key factors to consider. Evaluating expertise and checking licensing and compliance are two important sub-sections to consider.


Evaluating Expertise

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a freight forwarder is their expertise. You want to work with a company that has experience in your industry and can handle the specific needs of your business. Do your research and look for a freight forwarder that has a proven track record of success in your niche.


Additionally, you should consider the level of customer service offered by the freight forwarder. A good freight forwarder should be responsive to your needs and provide clear communication throughout the shipping process. Look for a company that offers personalized service and is willing to work with you to find the best shipping solutions for your business.


Checking Licensing and Compliance

Another important factor to consider when choosing a freight forwarder is their licensing and compliance. You want to work with a company that is licensed and registered with the appropriate regulatory agencies. This will help ensure that your shipments are handled legally and safely.


Additionally, you should look for a freight forwarder that is compliant with all relevant regulations and standards. This includes regulations related to customs, security, and transportation. A good freight forwarder should be able to provide you with documentation and proof of compliance upon request.


Customer reviews can also be a helpful tool when evaluating a freight forwarder's licensing and compliance. Look for reviews from other Amazon sellers who have used the company's services. This can give you insight into the company's level of professionalism and adherence to regulations.


Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that working with a reputable freight forwarder can help you streamline your operations and improve profitability. By outsourcing your logistics to a trusted partner, you can focus on growing your business and meeting customer demand.


However, it's important to do your due diligence when selecting a freight forwarder. Look for a company with a proven track record of success, excellent customer service, and competitive pricing. Don't be afraid to ask for references and compare quotes from multiple providers.


Best luck to your global business expansion!


Also, it might help to understand Amazon stranded inventory issues in this article here.



Frequently Asked Questions


1 - How do I choose the best freight forwarding company for my Amazon FBA business?

When choosing a freight forwarding company for your Amazon FBA business, it is important to consider factors such as reliability, cost-effectiveness, and experience. Look for a company that has a proven track record of successfully delivering goods to Amazon fulfillment centers and has a good reputation in the industry. You can also consider asking for recommendations from other Amazon sellers.


2 - What is the process for setting up a freight forwarder for Amazon shipments?

To set up a freight forwarder for Amazon shipments, you need to first find a reputable company that specializes in international shipping. Once you have chosen a company, you will need to provide them with the necessary information about your shipment, including the origin, destination, and type of goods being shipped. The freight forwarder will then handle all aspects of the shipping process, including arranging for transportation, customs clearance, and delivery to the Amazon fulfillment center.


3 - What are the most common Incoterms used by Amazon and how do they affect my business?

Incoterms are a set of international rules that define the responsibilities of buyers and sellers in international trade transactions. The most common Incoterms used by Amazon are FOB (Free on Board) and CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight). FOB means that the seller is responsible for delivering the goods to the port of shipment, while CIF means that the seller is responsible for delivering the goods to the port of destination. Understanding Incoterms is important for determining who is responsible for the cost and risk of transportation and insurance during the shipping process.


4 - What should I do if my shipment is lost or damaged during the freight forwarding process?

If your shipment is lost or damaged during the freight forwarding process, you should immediately contact your freight forwarder and file a claim with them. Most reputable freight forwarding companies have insurance policies that cover lost or damaged shipments. You should also contact Amazon to inform them of the situation and provide them with any necessary documentation.


5 - What are the advantages of using a freight forwarder for my Amazon business?

Using a freight forwarder for your Amazon business can provide many advantages, including access to international markets, cost savings, and reduced risk. Freight forwarders have the expertise and resources to handle all aspects of the shipping process, from customs clearance to delivery to the Amazon fulfillment center. This can save you time and money, while also reducing the risk of errors or delays.


6 - How can I increase sales through effective freight forwarding strategies?

To increase sales through effective freight forwarding strategies, you should focus on optimizing your shipping operations and reducing costs. This can include consolidating shipments, negotiating better rates with carriers, and using technology to track and manage your shipments. You can also consider partnering with a freight forwarding company that specializes in Amazon FBA shipments to take advantage of their expertise and resources.


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